I went to college in a small, Wisconsin town that got hit hard by weather extremes.
In the fall, the summer winds would quickly cool and sharpen, ripping into your cheeks on your way home from class, leaving them red and finely shredded, almost as if you had applied blush with sandpaper.
In the winter, the roads and sidewalks would be covered in piles of wet slush, little bombs of slippery ice-dirt and road salt that would explode onto your pants and shoes, leaving nasty stains when they dried.
In the spring, the snow would melt away, leaving soggy grass everywhere. I’d see that grass and think it was pretty solid, but my foot would just sink into it, cold little mud bubbles rising around my shoe from all directions, soaking right into my sock. It felt like I was walking on a peat bog covered in smushed worms and last year’s dog poo.
It wasn’t pretty.
My roommate Ashley and I were left with just two choices:
1. Try to predict and adjust for the weather. You know the drill: wear lots of layers, carry umbrellas on sunny days, build a collection of waterproof boots and start using phrases like “bunker in” and “venture out.”
2. Ignore it completely.
Well, we chose to ignore it. And we faced the consequences, let me tell you.
We got wind burn and had sleet slip down the back of our tee shirts. We would get massive dirt soakers and permanently stretch our socks peeling them off of our feet at the front door. We got dry legs, we got bone chill, and friends, we got rain hair hard.
But eventually, we got good at the art of ignoring it all.
In fact, I would dare to “venture out” and say that we were the queens of ignorance, the top dogs, the master of our unpredictable weather domains.
While I did indeed have mad skills, my roommate was the best of the best at ignoring the weather, the biggest proof being that she wore flip flops all year round. And in a northern Wisconsin town where “winter is coming” and “winter is never leaving” were phrases that were heard and uttered and believed on the regular, that was saying something. Wind, snow, rain, it didn’t matter one iota. “The toes need to breathe,” she’d say matter of factly.
She’d emphasize the point with a sturdy lip and a firm slipping on of the flip-flop. Then, she’d slap on her heavy backpack, give me a wink, and trudge out into a blizzard, navigating ice patches and slush piles like a pro.
Sure, there was the occasional bad day that came with being chronically unprepared for Mother nature’s worst blows, generally involving a dirty-puddle splashing all over your feet from a passing truck or maybe being unable to feel your toes until you put them in the toaster oven for twenty minutes. But we made it through.
And come on, there is something really nice about wearing sandals when you shouldn’t be wearing sandals. It’s liberation from shoe shackles, freedom from the oppressing sock, and a violent rebellion against those frostbite warnings Al Roker preaches on the weather channel.
People of the world, let’s face it: if we can come together to take down the shoe, then really, nothing can stop us.